I remembered to attend the Bollywood dance workout class last night. Bollywood dances are the energetic and colorful dances performed by casts of hundreds that we see in popular Hindi-language movies that U.S. distributors deign to bring here. If you saw “Slumdog Millionaire,” the Academy Award-winning Best Picture of 2008, you couldn’t miss the Bollywood dance at the end. (Personally, this didn’t seem like the best way to end a film about child abuse, but it did help erase some of the nightmarish scenes witnessed in the movie). I’ve also seen this style of dance in “Bride and Prejudice” (a Jane Austin remake Indian-style), and “Bollywood Hero,” which is shown over and over again on one of those cable TV channels few of us pay any attention to.
When I walked into the class and saw the instructor and several of the students I noted that I was slightly overdressed, and during the class I realized that I was overly a lot of other things, such as overly tall, overly white, overly blonde and overly clumsy. By the time the class ended I was overly sweaty.
The instructor was gorgeous, with beautiful toffee skin, an easy-to-make observation, given her exposed midriff, which was set off by an iridescent pink gem at least an inch in diameter, with about six smaller iridescent pink gems dangling from it, in her navel. She wore a gauzy emerald green pants-skirt with a hot-pink gauzy scarf tied around her 20-inch waist, and she was barefooted.
In contrast, I was dressed in an oversized black Bon Odori (see previous post) t-shirt, black knit shorts, and brand new and hard-not-to-notice, bright, white New Balance cross trainers.
Most of my classmates were Indian, but a few young, petite Asian women of other nationalities were also part of the group. I stood in the back row, but the ceiling to floor mirror in front ensured that I was never for a moment invisible.
Since I hadn’t done any seriously aerobic, or in this case perhaps anaerobic, exercise for several months I began the workout with the small but unrealistic hope that the warm-up would last a really long time. Sadly, we moved all too quickly from arm swings and knee bends to hip bumps, spins and kicks. From there, the situation escalated to routines — combinations of multiple steps involving legs, neck, feet, fingers, hands and shoulders simultaneously — first performed at a reasonable pace and then advanced to double time. For a clearer picture, see an example of one style of dance. Some of the trickiest movements were the positioning of fingers and the hand gestures (not that we used all of the ones shown on this website).
Despite extreme self-consciousness I did survive the class, got a great workout and think I’ll return next week, though this time without the full-body, heavy cotton t-shirt. I may scuff up my shoes a bit too.